As a 6-year-old girl said goodbye to her daddy Tuesday in Houston at the burial of George Floyd, Colorado Springs faith leaders demonstrated that the answer to healing the nation and solving racial inequity is a spirit of unity.
“We’re here to honor our grief, set aside anger and stand together as people of different faith traditions,” the Rev. Ahriana Platten, senior minister of Unity Spiritual Center of the Rockies said at a "Morning of Remembrance" at Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs.
Sixteen representatives from Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist and other spiritual traditions gathered to honor Floyd under "In Good Faith," a local interfaith collaborative. The 46-year-old black man died May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck during an arrest.
“One of the things we have to learn to do as white people is step back and stand with (black people),” Platten said.
Racism, along with other “isms” including classism and sexism, “devalue and destroy the image of God,” said the Rev. Jonathan Hall, senior pastor at First Christian Church.
The hope, he said, is that since faith communities honor and value lives, people of all faiths will “speak united and clearly against anything that takes away life.”
On the cold, windy morning that brought a late spring snowstorm to some parts of the region, the group circled up, recognized Floyd, spoke of bridging divisions and advocated for strength in numbers. Participants also kneeled on the ground for nearly nine minutes, symbolizing the amount of time Floyd was pinned down, went limp and later died.
“There’s a whole lot of protesting, anger and frustration, and it’s important we take a moment for grief as well,” Platten said.
Faith communities traditionally step forward to help people deal with loss and mourning, Platten said, and this time is no different.
“The faith community has to have a voice in what’s happening around the systemic racism and the great pain that’s being experienced,” she said. “We believe the faith community can have a powerful voice when they work together and support one another.”
The bad weather led organizers to scrap a planned prayer walk from the park to the Colorado Springs Police Department’s main headquarters.
They intended to “stand in a noticeable way to show CSPD we’re paying attention, we stand for change and this kind of police brutality can’t be tolerated, not in our city or anywhere,” Platten said.
Names of some people of color who recently have died at the hands of police locally and statewide were read aloud, with participants sounding singing bowls, bells and chimes after each name.
Solidarity among religious traditions is necessary not only for Floyd’s family but for all lives lost during encounters with police, said Andrew Palmer, a sensei with Springs Mountain Sangha.
“Spirituality is the beacon that calls people in from the storm and offers a place to bring hurt, anger, frustration and energy,” he said. “Instead of being wild and uncontrolled, it can be channeled to be healing, not devastating.”
Above all, “Love must prevail,” said the Rev. Julie Anthony, associate minister at Unity Spiritual Center of the Rockies.
“The inhumanity has been unbelievable,” she said. “We may come from different traditions, but we stand as one voice — all life matters, all black life matters.”
Several participants said the national stage is set for overcoming oppression, promoting tolerance, fighting for a better world, and attaining personal and collective conversion.
“I pray our country might be transformed in healing the terrible racism and we become a more loving and caring nation,” said Sister Dorothy Schlaeger, vice president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration.